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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Understanding Lice and Scabies -- Prevention

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How Can I Prevent Lice?

Preventing re-infestation with lice is as important as initial treatment. This is especially true for head lice, which generally spread from person to person via direct head or hair contact. If you discover lice or nits on your child, notify school or day care authorities at once, since classmates are likely to be infected.

The CDC recommends these additional steps to prevent and control the spread of lice:

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  • Don't share clothing, hats, hair accessories, towels, and brushes.
  • Don't lie on beds, couches, carpets, pillows that have been in contact with an infested person recently.
  • Wash clothing and bedding used by an infested person in hot water in the washing machine and high heat in a dryer. If items can't be washed, they can be dry cleaned or sealed in a plastic bag for two weeks.
  • Vacuum areas that have been in contact with an infested person (such as furniture and floors).
  • Close contacts of an infested person should be examined and treated if infested.
  • Do not use pesticide sprays or fogs since they are not necessary for head lice and can be harmful if inhaled or absorbed by the skin.

 

Call Your Doctor About Lice If:

Call your doctor if you need help getting rid of lice or if scratching has led to skin infection.

How Can I Prevent Scabies?

The best way to prevent getting scabies is to avoid contact with the mite. Transmission is generally by direct, prolonged contact with the skin of someone who is infested. A severe form of scabies, known as crusted scabies, is especially contagious but usually occurs only in those who are otherwise severely debilitated. The CDC recommends the following tips to prevent scabies infestation and control its spread:

  • Avoid direct skin-to-skin contact with someone who is infested.
  • Avoid items like bedding or clothing recently used by an infested person.
  • Household members of an infested person, or others who have been exposed, should be treated.
  • Wash clothing and bedding used by an infested person in the previous 24 hours in hot water in the washing machine and high heat in a dryer. If items can't be washed, they can be dry cleaned or sealed in a plastic bag for two weeks.
  • Do not use pesticide sprays or fogs since they are not necessary for scabies and can be harmful if inhaled or absorbed by the skin.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on March 14, 2014

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